How to Become an Outdoor Guide

Expert Advice
Jan 2019

Outdoor guides are a singular group of individuals for whom the outdoor lifestyle is quite literally the air they breathe.

Here at AOA, we have excellent guides who work hard to make our guided tours in Arizona and around the Southwest an incredible experience.  Frequently we get requests for a specific trip leader from guests who return wanting to take another trip with the same guide they had on their Grand Canyon hiking tour the previous year. For many of our guides, their reputation precedes them.

The AOA vision, and the chief goal we strive for with every guided outdoor trip we offer and every bike we rent, is to provide our guests with the “pinnacle of adventure experiences.”

Find out about Job Opportunities at AOA.

What does a guide do?

  • Customer Service: working well with trip guests is the most important aspect of a guide’s job. Individuals who don’t like working with other people may not be a good fit for the guiding world. Guides encounter many different guest personalities and trying outdoor situations and need to be flexible enough to maintain excellent customer service skills no matter what.
  • Education: At AOA, we put a heavy emphasis on providing fun and engaging information to our trip participants about the flora, fauna, geology, and history of the region they are exploring. Guides have to be experts on the natural and human history of their corner of the world.
  • Cook: Yep, our guides cook. A lot. Don’t worry, we’ll teach you.
  • Hike, bike, backpack, raft, kayak: We look for guides who are adept in outdoor adventure sports, but most importantly people who simply love to get out there and learn!

How do I become a guide?

Working as an outdoor guide is an exciting and rewarding job. Breaking into the outdoor industry doesn’t require much beyond a passion for the outdoors and willingness to work hard in a dynamic environment. Certain qualifications and experience are helpful when seeking a guide position with an outfitter. At AOA we focus on finding the right personalities in our guides, but experience and advanced certifications are certainly always a plus.

If you are interested in becoming a guide you might consider:

  • First Aid/Life Guard Training
  • Taking a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course
  • Wilderness First Responder
    • The Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification is “the definitive wilderness course in medical training, leadership, and critical thinking for outdoor, low-resource, and remote professionals and leaders.” AOA offers WFR certification and re-certification courses each year in partnership with Wilderness Medical Associates and the Wilderness Leadership Institute.
  • Swift Water Rescue Training

Job Requirements and Considerations

  • Are you good at working with people?
  • Do you have a flexible schedule?
  • Do you have your own gear?
  • Are you able to handle stressful situations and advanced problem solving?
  • Do you love the outdoors?

AOA takes pride in having the best guide staff in the Southwest. Our guides love what they do and work hard, it shows in every aspect of their performance. Check out our website to learn more about us, our trip leaders, and staff. If you are interested in becoming an outdoor guide, read the information about job opportunities on our website.